Every time an animal gives birth, the miracle of life is on full display. This event is even more miraculous when it happens to a species that was on the verge of extinction. When this mama panda gave birth not to one but two babies, everyone was ecstatic! However, you won’t believe the crazy reason why the zoo has to switch them out from their mom’s cage every few hours.
20. Panda Mom
The Atlanta zoo was in for a big surprise when their giant panda was finally ready to give birth. While the zoo was expecting the mom to give birth soon, they had no idea that she would be surprising them with not one, but two baby pandas!
Believe it or not, but it’s actually not that unusual for pandas to give birth to twins. In fact, over half of all panda births result in twins. However, there is a sad reason why we don’t always hear about panda twins.
18. Sad Reality
Unfortunately, it is quite rare for both panda twins to survive after they have been born. But why is this? Well, apparently panda mom’s aren’t too well-versed in taking care of more than one baby at a time.
17. Lun Lun
Lun Lun the giant panda gave birth to her twins at 6:21 p.m. and 6:23 p.m. EDT. She is actually the first panda to give birth to twins in the United States, according to zoo officials. This made the birth even more astonishing.
16. No Expectations
“We had no reason to expect twins, although we had not ruled them out,” said Dwight Lawson, deputy director of Zoo Atlanta. “On the few ultrasound images that Mom actually cooperated with, we only saw one developing fetus.”
15. Endangered Species
Giant pandas happen to be an endangered species, so zoos and other animal facilities have been working hard to preserve the species. Currently, there are only 1,600 living the wild, and about 300 in captivity, mostly in China.
14. Excited News
The Atlanta zoo was so excited when they saw the two perfectly pink twins! However, they also knew that they would have to step in and help the twins out. Unfortunately, Lun Lun wouldn’t be able to give both babies enough attention for both of them to survive…
You see, in the wild twin panda bears very rarely, if ever, survive. This is because the mother panda will often neglect one baby while focusing entirely on the other one. Although this might seem cruel, it’s just the way pandas are.
12. Not Enough
One of the contributing factors to this lack of care is often due to the mother panda’s survival instincts. Mama pandas often assume that they won’t produce enough milk to feed both babies. So instead of risk both of the baby’s lives, they choose to focus on one.
11. Combating Against Nature
Since the giant panda species is already endangered, the Atlanta zoo wanted to ensure that both babies would survive. They decided to come up with a genius plan that would enable both babies to feed on their mother’s milk. You won’t believe the plan that they came up with!
10. The Plan
The team at the zoo came up with a plan to trick the mama panda into thinking that she was only caring for one baby. So how exactly did they fool a mother panda? Well, it was tricky but they managed it!
9. Switching Out
The team decided that they would switch out the babies throughout the day. This way, the mother panda would believe that she was only caring for one of the baby cubs. The process begins as soon as the mother panda gives birth.
Once both pandas were born, the team only left behind one baby panda with Lun Lun. Lun Lun then began to feed the initial baby left behind. Once this baby was fed well enough, it was time to distract Lun Lun so that the switching could occur.
7. Distracting Mama
Finally, it was time to distract mama panda so that the switch could happen. Lun Lun’s handlers distract with a yummy bowl of honey in water. This keeps her preoccupied enough where she doesn’t notice the baby switch happening.
At first, the mother panda is a bit reluctant to part ways with her baby. However, as soon as she smells the nice bowl of honey water, she becomes a bit more preoccupied. The baby is wrapped up and then replaced with the other twin.
5. No Idea
Thankfully, Lun Lun doesn’t seem to notice that the switch has happened at all. In fact, she heads over to the baby and hugs it and cuddles it like nothing happened. All of the zoo staff are so relieved when they see that the mother panda hasn’t noticed a change.
4. Formula Milk
Whenever one of the baby pandas isn’t with their mother, the zoo staff make sure to feed the baby some formula milk. However, the quality time spent with their mother is essential to their growth and their health. Since zoo staff know this they have to perform the ol’ switcheroo quite often.
3. Ten Times
The zoo staff actually perform the baby switch around ten times a day. Although it can get a big exhaustive and challenging, they are more than happy to do it. After all, they know the survival of this species is in their hands.
“Everyone is enormously excited about baby pandas because they are undeniably attractive,” said Stuart Pimm, a conservation ecologist at Duke University according to National Geographic. “So by having pandas in zoos it really engages people—it really is about getting people to care, and that’s important.”
1. Getting Bigger
The zoo is happy to report that the twins are getting bigger and healthier as each day passes. Thanks to the staff’s genius plan, both panda twins have been able to survive and further the giant panda species.